within a curled eyelash of being?

ddubug

Senior Member
Korean
Hi,
I need help, here...

<She was sixteen and within a curled eyelash of being as drop-dead beautiful as Mary.>

She was within a curled eyelash of being?

I know...she is very beautiful. And she has curled eyelash...But I don't know the exact meaning of this...What is the difference between 'she has a curled eyelash' and 'she was withing a curled eyelash of being'??
 
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    Two possibilities:
    "A curled eyelash" would be a very narrow distinction. Mary may be more beautiful, but the difference is minuscule.
    It might also mean that Mary chooses or is able to spend more time on her appearance, engaging in such primping as curling her eyelashes; these efforts on the part of Mary then constitute the only reason why she might be considered more beautiful.

    The first one is simpler. Hopefully the context can tell you which one is the likelier choice.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    It's a play on the phrases like "within a whisker" or "within a hair's breadth", which are set phrases meaning "very close", since a whisker and a hair are both very very thin. An eyelash is, of course, a hair but since the topic is feminine beauty the hair chosen for this phrase is "a curled eyelash" rather than a whisker. The allusion to beautification is also strengthened by making the eyelash "curled" (curled with eyelash curler - something women do to make their eyes look more beautiful).
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    It's a play on the phrases like "within a whisker" or "within a hair's breadth", which are set phrases meaning "very close", since a whisker and a hair are both very very thin. An eyelash is, of course, a hair but since the topic is feminine beauty the hair chosen for this phrase is "a curled eyelash" rather than a whisker. The allusion to beautification is also strengthened by making the eyelash "curled" (curled with eyelash curler - something women do to make their eyes look more beautiful).
    Yes, I agree. In fact "within an eyelash of" is itself a set phrase, with many examples on Google such as; "the team was within an eyelash of winning"; "they were within an eyelash of executing an innocent man." As Matching Mole says, here "curled" has been inserted as a playful reference to what she and/or Mary either have by nature or do improve their looks.
     

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    Yes, I agree. In fact "within an eyelash of" is itself a set phrase, with many examples on Google such as; "the team was within an eyelash of winning"; "they were within an eyelash of executing an innocent man." As Matching Mole says, here "curled" has been inserted as a playful reference to what she and/or Mary either have by nature or do improve their looks.
    Which means, though she's very beautiful, but she's not as drop-dead beautiful as Mary is, with or without makeup on? :confused: (after all, the writer did use "curled" :D)

    And ddubug, I think you should read the sentence in this way (it will be easier for you to understand :))

    She was sixteen and within a curled eyelash of being as drop-dead beautiful as Mary.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Which means, though she's very beautiful, but she's not as drop-dead beautiful as Mary is, with or without makeup on? :confused: (after all, the writer did use "curled" :D)

    And ddubug, I think you should read the sentence in this way (it will be easier for you to understand :))

    She was sixteen and within a curled eyelash of being as drop-dead beautiful as Mary.
    I agree that there is ambiguity here, and Bibliolept said it earlier as well.

    It seems to me that it depends on whose curled eyelash it is.

    If it is Mary's curled eyelash, then we might think that "she" would be as beautiful as Mary if "she" would only curl her eyelashes.

    If it is "her" curled eyelash, then we would think that even though she has curled her lashes, she still is the width of a lash away from being as beautiful as Mary.

    ddubug told us "she has curled eyelash" so it would be the second of the two, if this was stated explicitly and not something ddubug assumed. Otherwise, if "she" has straight lashes, it's the first situation and all she has to do be Mary's equal in beauty is get out her eyelash curler.
     

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    I agree that there is ambiguity here, and Bibliolept said it earlier as well.

    It seems to me that it depends on whose curled eyelash it is.

    If it is Mary's curled eyelash, then we might think that "she" would be as beautiful as Mary if "she" would only curl her eyelashes.

    If it is "her" curled eyelash, then we would think that even though she has curled her lashes, she still is the width of a lash away from being as beautiful as Mary.

    ddubug told us "she has curled eyelash" so it would be the second of the two, if this was stated explicitly and not something ddubug assumed. Otherwise, if "she" has straight lashes, it's the first situation and all she has to do be Mary's equal in beauty is get out her eyelash curler.
    )" target="WRdict">

    I see, thanks (again :D)
     

    Christhiane

    Senior Member
    English
    I actually don't see the ambiguety of the sentence. I analyse it as:

    She (S) was (V) sixteen (sP) and (c) within a curled eyelash of being as drop-dead beautiful as Mary (sP).

    To me the sentence means that 1) she is 16 years old, and 2) that she is uglier that Mary by the smallest possible margin.

    How would you analyse the sentence to make it mean that 'she' is the prettier one?
     

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    I don't think any one of us (bibliolept, MM, Cagey and I) ever think that she can be prettier than Mary.

    We are just discussing the possibility of "applying makeup or not".
     
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